Young whales jump the gun on migration 

Humpback whales breaching (Andrew Davenport )

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HUMPBACK whales have made an unexpected early arrival in Albany after being spotted in King George Sound and at Cheynes Beach over the last couple of weeks.

Albany’s whale season usually kicks off around late May or early June, but a group of sub-adults have made their presence known ahead of the pod.

Centre for Whale Research’s Andrew Davenport said the whales spotted off Cheynes Beach were Humpbacks based off their long pectoral fins and white belly, which a Southern Right whale doesn’t have.

“It looked like they were breaching, surface active behaviour as we call it, and these have both a functional and recreational purpose,” he said.

“Humpback whales are quite coastal, they like getting into sheltered areas where they can make lots of noise.”

Mr Davenport said it was difficult to pinpoint why the whales have left their Antarctic feeding grounds and begun their annual migration up WA’s coast earlier than usual.

“A guess would that they’re sub-adults, based on their behaviour as they’re very playful,” he said.

“Often, they haven’t quite learnt the best time to migrate yet, they have jumped the gun perhaps; they’re most likely just younger animals who aren’t breeding yet.

“Sub-adults might not make it all the way up the coast, they do what they like, have fun and be teenagers essentially.”

A spokesperson from Albany Whale Tours said they’re hoping for a good whale season this year.

“It’s fantastic that they are coming in early, and we are just hoping that they keep coming,” they said.

“Last year was a fantastic year for the Humpbacks and a very average year for the Southern Right, and I’m hoping this year we get a good mix of both of them.”

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